Shelter Stories:

A Mr.Frisky Blog

Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

My Mum always says: "You never get over losing a pet, you just learn to live with it."

In light of Duchess cat's recent passing, I once again thought about this. It is always hard, no matter how short or long of time you've been with them, no matter if they were old or young, sick or well.

I remember when Raja cat died. The "boys" - Alex and Garth cat - began attacking each other. Suddenly two cats that got along, within days of Raja passing from breast cancer, began fighting to the point where blood was spilled and emergency hospital trips were required.

I wasn't actually ready to get Duchess when I ended up taking her home. I had been volunteering at the Shelter that weekend, and she had been surrendered by someone who was moving and didn't want to take this old cat who needed heart and thryoid medicines. Duchess was not taking to the shelter well, facing the corner, refusing to eat or drink. By the second weekend, when I was back again for Volunteering, she was so dehydrated they were considering euthanasia. I took her home as a hopsice foster, assuming this would be her last few days. 

Not only did she recover, but from the moment she entered the house - even during the initial period where she was confined to the Foster room - Alex and Garth stopped fighting. Immediately, and without further incidents.

Back when I had Mr. Frisky, within six months, my 13 year old Siberian Husky rescue, and my Fiona cat both passed away. Mr. Frisky stopped eating, stopped drinking, sat in a corner by the fireplace, and refused to get up. The Vet was coming to the house weekly to give fluids to keep him alive. 

There was nothing actually wrong with him - other than heart breaking grief of his two best friends.

The Vet finally said, after 3 weeks of this, "I know you're not ready, but you need to go bring home another cat or dog or both."
"I can't", I replied. "Mr.Frisky will be angry!"
"Anger," my Vet calmly replied,"is an active emotion."

Point taken. While I was not emotionally ready, I knew my remaining pets life literally depended on my ability to be strong enough to be ready sooner than I would have liked.

And so, I went to the Shelter I was volunteering at the time, and brought him a hospice dog (Charmin) and Sabrina cat who had been living at the shelter for two years - no that's not a typo - 2 years (because she had been mutilated by cruel people, and people thought she "looked funny"). 

When I came home with the new family members, and they trotted into the house, Mr.Frisky turned, got saucer eyes, got up, laid his ears back and promptly came over the food and water bowls to regulate who could eat what and when! From that moment on, he ate, drank, played, and ruled.

I know not everyone can do this after losing a pet. There are grief support groups at local shelters. You can make tributes for your beloved pets by buying a brick a a local shelter that is selling them to raise funds, or making a donation in the name of your beloved pet to a shelter on a remembrance day - or any time.

I often meet people volunteering with the animals at the shelter because they have lost a pet, and for various reasons do not right now want to adopt. They are there are giving that love, and easing their pain, through loving the shelter animals. Foster families also often foster for similar reasons.

It has only been a week since Duchess passed, and right now every day the pain in my heart is very fresh. The house is too quiet. My 4 legged family members feel it too; they are subdued, clingy, and sleeping a lot. But we will heal, and as my Vet said when I told him I would probably foster kittens in the soon to be kitten season, "Lauren, knowing you, you'll go to get kittens to foster and come home with a 23 year old cat with bone cancer who needs hospice."

He's probably right.